Once deemed as nothing more than a lip-syncing app for teenagers, TikTok is now responsible for popularising countless trends, songs, creators, and brands. TikTok’s new reputation has brands from Dior to Gucci flocking to the platform in hopes of gaining popularity among new audiences.
TikTok is the fastest growing app in the world, with over a billion active users, and has become a strategic tool for brands to engage with younger audiences in creative ways that differ from traditional approaches to social media and digital marketing. Brands who have mastered the app are leaning towards spontaneous and relatable content, and in return are driving huge engagement.
Traditionally, luxury brands have drawn their customers in through the premium in-store experience they offer and clean-cut campaigns. This industry is known to have a more tentative approach to digital innovations. However, TikTok is the new epicentre of fashion trends. Through this platform, people and trends can go viral and gain impressive exposure through one quick video. In an era more digitised than ever, luxury brands have embraced the platform and its pace.
High-end brands now want to appear more relevant and approachable to the latest consumers without jeopardizing their prestigious reputations and found a way to do so through TikTok.
From Moncler to JW Anderson, numerous brands have joined the platform and have mastered it. By creating challenges with personalised hashtags such as #GucciModelChallenge and #MonclerBubbleUp, these brands have seen impressive results and given themselves a reputation that appeals to young audiences.
Unlike platforms such as Instagram, success on TikTok is not measured by follower count. TikTok offers its users a personalised experience and allows them to scroll through an endless curation of videos based on their interests. Users are therefore exposed to creators, big or small, who cater to their interests. Users can easily gain traction without having a single follower if their post is appealing enough. This means that despite influencers being a key component for many online campaigns, the general audience is too.
Successful brand collaborations on TikTok tend to be with personable TikTokers, who put their twist on the collaboration and engage their audiences, who in turn, participate in the campaigns by also creating their take on these challenges or trends.
“TikTok has a virality factor that no other platform has,” says Emma Chamberlain, who has over 10 million followers on the app. “Whether it’s a recipe, or a popular clothing item, the best place for it to go viral is on TikTok, and it can happen quickly due to their algorithm.” This encourages brands to work with younger and newer creators they believe can produce quality content relevant to their brand.
Many luxury fashion houses have flocked over to TikTok, but not all have managed to integrate effectively. Brands like Moncler and Gucci have adapted to the platform and delivered successful marketing strategies and found immense success on the app. What sets them apart from other luxury brands on TikTok?
These brands are aware of the audience they are catering to and how to reach them. Gen Z makes approximately 70% of TikTok’s demographic, and clever marketing strategies are keeping this in mind. “The ideal campaign on TikTok is more authentic, creative, community-driven and less aspirational than you might see on another platform,” says CeCe Vu, fashion partnerships lead at TikTok.
Moncler, a leading example, launched the #MonclerBubbleUp campaign in 2020 featuring notable “TikTokers” such as Charli d’Amelio and Bella Poarch among many others. In this campaign, the creators showcased the brand’s signature puffer coats and had creative control over their videos. The official collaborations consisted of creators dressing in random objects to imitate the Moncler look and then transitioning into modeling the brand’s signature puffy coats.
The campaign’s success is also thanks to the inclusion of creators beyond the ones in a paid partnership with the brand. Anyone could partake in this challenge and share it, which helped the hashtag gain incredible engagement and 7 billion views. “Digital is super important and we work a lot on that,” says Remo Ruffini, chief executive of Moncler. At the end of 2020, the brand reported an 18 percent revenue increase over the previous year and for the first time, has surpassed the billion euro margin.
Another brand that has mastered TikTok is Gucci. What set this successful campaign apart from others is that it was not even started by the Italian fashion house. TikTok creators, who had fun mixing and matching different colours and prints to create the “Gucci model look”, had a lot to do with Gucci’s popularity on the platform. This amusing trend was quickly embraced by the brand, who started sharing TikToker content and their versions of the #GucciModelChallenge. Again, this effectively went viral as anyone, famous or not, could partake and add their twist.
The challenge has amassed over 260 million views and has been featured on British Vogue. Enjoying the exposure gained by this campaign, Gucci has mentioned that some participants of the challenge would be part of an upcoming TikTok project.
TikTok’s next big trend is always anticipated and there is no way to predict what will dominate the platform next. While it could be a choreography to a catchy song that goes viral, it could also be a single garment, as is JW Anderson’s Colourblock Patchwork Cardigan. TikTokers started recreating and sharing their version of the JW Anderson cardigan after the #HarryStylesCardigan hashtag went viral on the app. This now-famous cardigan gained popularity after being worn by Harry Styles during a performance. The hashtag, which features the TikTok community trying to recreate the colourful cardigan, has accumulated over 80 million views. Flattered by the attention, Jonathan Anderson released the knitting pattern for creators to use, along with a heartwarming statement on the brand’s official website:
“I am so impressed and incredibly humbled by this trend and everyone knitting the cardigan. I really wanted to show our appreciation so we are sharing the pattern with everyone. Keep it up!”
This is yet another example of brands gaining immense exposure through authentic interactions with the app’s users rather than a calculated campaign.
In contrast to the likes of Gucci and Moncler, not all brands have achieved viral campaigns and an engaged audience on the platform. These are usually brands that have stuck to the traditional approach to social media, through perfectly edited ads and images. When competing against interactive challenges and hashtags, the traditional marketing strategy has not been as successful in pulling TikTok users in.
Tiktok has ushered in a promising new marketing era for the luxury industry, that is set to grow and adapt in accordance with new innovations in luxury. Brands can now strategically plan and execute campaigns and make them accessible for creators to recreate and popularise them to audiences; this makes now the ideal time for brands to take on this platform and test strategies that work best for their needs – with the correct approach, the prospects for exposure and engagement have no limits!